Attracting customers with helpful content is one of the biggest lead generation opportunities for businesses owners today. However, cranking out quality content day in and day out might seem about as appealing as wading through a field of treacle.
When I started blogging for my document management business, the incumbents were still plastering billboards, running radio ads and buying full-page spreads in magazines. They had deep pockets, and I had limited resources.
For three months, I wrote a blog post every week. Pretty soon we began to see a regular flow of leads from our website. When the CEO of our biggest competitor pulled into our parking lot in his Porsche, I knew something was working.
"In the age of the customer, salespeople must take note of customers who shop through social networks, live on their mobile device, and research products on their own. In other words, leave behind the hard seller stereotype and become a trusted advisor." - State of Inbound Marketing 2017, HubSpot
The key point here is to become a trusted advisor.
We were building trust with our content. In a matter of months, we had pushed out 16 blog posts and an eBook. Every piece of material aimed at helping companies understand the best practices around document and records management.
Our content was outranking them on Google, and their marketing team couldn't understand why...
@@72% of marketers say relevant content creation is the most effective SEO tactic@@
However after 16 articles I was quickly running out of ideas for topics. Crafting each new post was like drawing blood from a stone.
I was a CEO for goodness sake, not a writer.
So, how does one overcome the content block and create helpful material?
Well, I started with sticky notes, emails and pizza.
One afternoon, I pulled anyone who was customer facing into the boardroom. I asked them about the questions they kept encountering on customer calls. We scribbled the questions onto the sticky notes and stuck them to the wall. Then we grouped similar ideas together, and came up with enough titles to fill the next quarter. Finally, we listed all the titles on a spreadsheet, set publish dates and over pizza wrangled who would take responsibility for each post.
We had the makings of our first content calendar, and responsibility for writing posts was more evenly spread.
No doubt, helpful content, consistently created, generates quality leads.
Here are 6 steps toward Creating Quality Content
1. Know Your Target Audience
Quality content isn't what you want visitors to read; it's what they find helpful. To understand what they find useful, ask them. Talk to existing customers and develop buyer personas–semi-fictitious characters based on your customers, that you 'talk to' when creating new content. Right now I'm talking to Eddie Entrepreneur, a business owner struggling to come to grips with content marketing.
2. Set Goals
Consistency is key in content marketing. Start with something manageable, two blog posts per month. Once you find a rhythm you can start developing more content. But always put quality over quantity.
3. Schedule Your Content
By creating a content schedule you're making sure you have a steady stream of content ideas. Instead of racking your brain every morning for a new idea, you open up your content calendar and start working.
To create your editorial calendar, start by pulling your team together and brainstorming some content ideas. Invite salespeople, receptionists, customer service agents and engineers. Discuss burning topics and challenges your customers are facing and questions that keep coming up during sales calls and meetings.
Organize the topics together into campaigns and start working on specific content ideas. Once you have some content items, enter them into your calendar along with delivery dates and specific publishing tasks, like who the content creation is assigned to, the title, the targeted persona, the content type. Create a good blend of content types and topics for your different personas.
4. Write Down Your Focal Points
Your content will consist of a blend of focal points. Things like a Call-to-Action for each content item, keywords for SEO, the stage of the buying lifecycle for which you are creating the content and other inbound marketing goals you may have. Having this organized as part of your editorial calendar will help you create a well-rounded piece of content.
5. Identify Significant Events
Take a look at a calendar and identify upcoming events that you can hook your content too - events like Valentine's day, Easter, Halloween or Mothers Day. Make a note of these on your editorial calendar so that you are well prepared to take advantage of these events.
6. Organize Content by Type
In your editorial calendar separate the various content types into different tabs or columns (in Trello) for various content types. This way it's easy to check that you are publishing enough content for the various content types - eBooks, blogs, infographics, video.
Your editorial calendar will keep you from struggling to find new content ideas every day. You'll have a steady flow of ideas that will keep your content generation machine running. If there are gaps in your calendar, no problem you can fill these with hot topics that come up over time.
Invite people in your company to blog, offer content creation assignments and provide them with content creation guidelines.